Casting Net: Jessica Chastain and Kristen Wiig in early discussions for 'The Martian'
• Jessica Chastain is in early discussions for The Martian. She would play the female lead opposite Matt Damon in Fox’s sci-fi film, which Ridley Scott is directing. Based on the e-book by Andy Weir, the film follows an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars and must fight to survive and make his way home. Simon Kinberg originally brought the book to Scott, and will produce alongside Aditya Sood through Kinberg’s Genre Films Banner. Fox’s Steve Asbell will oversee the film for the studio. [Variety]
[Note: Deadline and THR reported that Kristen Wiig is also in early talks for a lead female role in the film.]
• Johnny Knoxville will star alongside Jackie Chan and Fan Bingbing in Skiptrace, which Renny Harlin is directing. Knoxville is replacing Seann William Scott. The film, which just began shooting in China, follows a Hong Kong detective (Chan) who pairs with an American gambler (Knoxville) to save his niece and take out the city’s biggest criminal. Chan, Brian Gatewood, Esmond Ren, Damien Saccani, and Charlie Coker will produce. Jay Longino, Gatewood & Alessandro Tanaka, Geoff Moore & David Posamentier, and BenDavid Grabinski were involved in the script, which Rodney Rothman is polishing. Dasym Entertainment and Talent Internation Film are co-financing and co-producing. The film was approved as a co-production by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT). [Deadline]
• Julie Engelbrecht has signed on for the Breck Eisner-directed The Last Witch Hunter, joining Vin Diesel, Michael Cane, Elijah Wood, and Rose Leslie. The German actress will make her American film debut in the Lionsgate/Summit film. The film follows an immortal witch hunter (Diesel) who must team with a witch to stop the covens of New York City from releasing a plague on humanity. Engelbrecht will play the evil Witch Queen. Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama wrote the script, based on a pitch by Cory Goodman; D.W. Harper and Melisa Wallack worked on the script as well. Mark Canton, Bernie Goldmann, and Diesel will produce. One Race’s Samantha Vincent and Adam Goldworm will executive produce. Summit will manage the film’s North American release. [Deadline]
• Missi Pyle has signed on for Director’s Cut, a dark satire directed by Adam Rifkin. Pyle will play herself in the story about a psycho superfan, played by Penn Jillette. The fan wins a walk-on role for Pyle’s most recent film through a crowdfunding site, and later kidnaps her, forcing her to re-shoot the film in his dungeon studio. Interestingly, the film is a crowdfunded project itself, which Neil Patrick Harris, Ben Stiller, and Joan Rivers, among others, contributed to. In total, it raised $1,164,928 with 4,736 donors through FundMe. Jillette, Rifkin, and Penn & Teller manager/producer Peter Adam Golden are producing the film, which is currently shooting in LA. [Deadline]
• Douglas Booth has joined Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, whose source material comes from Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody novel of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The British actor will play Bingley. L, friend to Mr. Darcy, in the story of heroine Elizabeth Bennet who encounters the undead in Regency-Era England. Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, and Jack Huston also star in the film. Brian Oliver, Allison Shearmur, Sean McKittrick, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Tyler Thomson, and Marc Butan will produce. Additionally, Sierra/Affinity is producing with Cross Creek Pictures who will manage foreign sales. [Deadline]